Updated: Jun 1, 2020
by Fleur Hughes (MMT, MTA, MT-BC) & Sheila Killoran (MA, MTA, FAMI) MTAA Regulation Representatives As many of us know, Music Therapy is currently a non-regulated profession across Canada. Only Ontario and Nova Scotia currently regulate music therapists, while the process for becoming regulated in certain other provinces has begun. We ourselves (Fleur & Sheila) have been involved in the pursuit of regulation for Alberta music therapists for several years. This process started with FACT-AB and lead to the establishment of Association for Counselling Therapy of Alberta (ACTA), and the Alberta government’s passing of a bill to form the Alberta College of Counselling Therapy (yet to be proclaimed).
We would like to share some of our reflections in regard to why regulation is important for us as a profession. Over the last few years we have been working hard to advocate that music therapy be at the table, and part of this process. ACTA has been advocating, creating standards of practice and code of ethics documents, meeting with provincial entities and attending governmental meetings and many other activities to help drive our profession into the future. Currently it feels like we work so differently from other helping professions, but the establishment of a College would enable us to be seen more akin to our regulated peers: occupation therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language pathologists, psychologists and social workers (all professions with established colleges).
Benefits of Regulation Once the College is established it will lead to: The possibility of more job creation for music therapists; specifically access to apply to jobs and funding grants that are for “regulated professionals.” Registration and licensure standards to ensure that there are less cases of misrepresentation. Continuing education standards to ensure that therapists continue with their own professional growth. Approval of training programs, qualification, and internships which ensure that minimum standards are kept and there is more consistency in training programs and clinical supervision. Ensuring minimum standards of practice for us as professionals. Ethical standards and minimum competencies, ensuring more rounded and accountable clinicians. Ability to lobby insurance companies to cover music therapy services. Protection for the public and the interest of the people we work. Insurance Coverage It is evident that more music therapists have had success in the provinces where they are regulated. There has been some success billing through insurance companies, rather than having clients pay for themselves. With some extra training music therapists are working for private psychology practices or contracting out to places like veterans affairs. Risks of Misrepresentation Currently there is a greater risk for the public because anyone can claim to be a “musical therapist” and not have any training or accreditation and claim to do what we do. With a College there will be more accountability for people not do this. Challenges We Face Albert Einstein noted how “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Right now, it is an interesting time for us to contemplate how our profession can move forward. In response to COVID-19, we have had to be adaptable with tele-health and to re-imagine and change the way we provide services. We continue to reflect on the ethical needs and risks to our clients, and how we can offer music therapy safely. Opportunity for Growth Similarly, when proclamation happens, our profession will be moving into some areas of new uncertainty, but more importantly, it will be a time of immense growth and potential. Do we accept some of the unique challenges a College may face in order to move our profession forward to many years to come? We have heard from our Alberta music therapy community that your answer is yes! You are ready, and you to want to become regulated as counselling therapists, and be part of the process advancing our profession forward. What You Can Do If you have not yet done so, please join ACTA. This is the first step. The registration fees have been differed to provide some financial relief at this difficult time.https://www.acta-alberta.ca/important-registration-announcement. Being part of the College of counselling therapists of Alberta, means that we will be in a group with other similar professionals like art therapists, expressive arts therapists and drama therapists; as well as counsellors, chaplains, and others. It also means we will have a stronger voice for our profession. It matters now more than ever. Advocating For You Even now, ACTA is currently liaising with the government on your behalf. ACTA is communicating with the MTAA, to make sure you are provided with the most up to date health and safety information to help you provide Telehealth or in-person sessions safely at this time. Click for news on the Alberta Relaunch Strategy https://www.acta-alberta.caIn this difficult time, know that we are working hard behind the scenes to keep pushing our profession forward. We will get music therapy contracts and jobs back, we will get new referrals again, we will sing together again…and in the meantime, please stay connected. You can reach either one of us directly by submitting an inquiry through the form on our 'Regulation' page - or be connected to us through firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions or feedback, we want to hear from you! We look forward to the proclamation of the College and seeing how our profession of music therapy thrives and grows.
Stay safe and healthy! Fleur & Sheila